He dropped the coin on the ground before me.
Don’t be stupid, he said.
I wasn’t, just selfish. Maybe sentimental. Foolish, I’ll admit.
That’s good money, finest crypto, accepted most places.
Not for sale.
I clutched my left arm instinctively. It was thin, natural, covered in audio tats, a vocal history of my family, my lineage. My stomach rumbled. I looked down again at the coin. No, I thought. I can’t.
Fifty plus a brand new arm, he said.
That’s like, ninety crypto!
He was right, too. A young limb like mine was a prized commodity. The lowers — rich folk — ground them up and poured the ash into their hydro meat. They said it added seconds to their life, some said even minutes. I wasn’t sure I believed any of it. Still, the offer was tempting.
Growed limb. Better than what you were born with!
He rolled up his sleeve and showed me his right arm.
It was, too.
Is it the tats?
I looked away.
Tell you what. Forty crypto plus a growed limb — which is even better — and I have my girl copy the tats onto the new arm. What say?
I shook my head.
He walked away in disgust.
But I knew. Those tat copies aren’t as good. Everyone says they’re exact copies only better but they’re not. The highs aren’t as high, the lows aren’t as low, the voices are close but not real. I could go another day without eating, probably. I couldn’t lose the true voices of my mom, dad, my brother, my two sisters, gran, gramps. The audio tats on my arm were all I had left of them.